More Oregon drivers are using ignition interlocks, which are designed to keep people from driving if they have been drinking. Use of the devices has soared across the U.S. in recent years, reports The Oregonian, as legislators, spurred on by groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, adopted laws requiring offenders to install the interlocks. Congress is considering language in a new transportation bill that would penalize states that don’t adopt mandatory interlock laws.
Supporters say re-arrest rates plummet for drivers using the electronic devices while also providing a safe way for people to drive to work or ferry their kids around. Offenders must pay for the equipment. The growth of interlocks has also raised plenty of doubts and criticism. The majority of drunken drivers required to install an interlock get out of the requirement, typically by waiting out their license suspensions or by claiming not to have access to a car. The problem is that most of those offenders continue to drive anyway without a license or insurance, according to several studies and experts. It’s not clear that interlocks have a lasting effect on driver behavior. Once they’re removed — in Oregon, usually after a year — studies indicate the recidivism rate climbs back to the same rate as offenders who never used interlocks.